Snorkelling and Diving in Oman

Snorkelling and Diving in Oman
Rod Salm and Robert Baldwin

Published with the support and encouragement of

Published by Motivate Publishing Dubai: Po Box 2331, dubai, Uae Tel: (+971 4) 282 4060, fax: (+971 4) 282 0428 e-mail: books@motivate.ae www.booksarabia.com office 508, Building no 8, dubai media City, dubai, Uae Tel: (+971 4) 390 3550, fax: (+971 4) 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: Po Box 43072, abu dhabi, Uae Tel: (+971 2) 677 2005, fax: (+971 2) 677 0124 London: acre House, 11/15 William road, london nW1 3er e-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae directors: Consultant editor: deputy editors: assistant editor: art director: senior designer: general manager Books: Publishing Coordinator: First published 1991 First revised edition 1992 reprints 1996, 1998 new edition 2007 obaid Humaid al Tayer and ian Fairservice david steele moushumi nandy, Jennifer evans Zelda Pinto andrea Willmore Cithadel Francisco Jonathan griffiths Jenny Bateman-irish Photographic credits andrea Willmore: 8, 13, 15, 18, 19 Christa loustalot: 2, 6, 25, 60, 62, 65(t), 68(b), 70(b), 77 (t), 79(t) (www.photograsea.net) moushumi nandy: 9, 90 (b), 103 Warren r Baverstock: Front cover (www.verstodigital.com)

Front cover: scuba divers explore the beauty of oman’s underwater world. Back cover: large schools of fusiliers are a common sight near coral reefs in oman. Title page: literally meaning ‘naked gill’, nudibranchs, like this pair of Risbecia pulchella, are the slugs of the sea. © motivate Publishing and rod salm and robert Baldwin 2007
all rights reserved. no part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means) without the written permission of the copyright holders. application for the copyright holders’ written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publishers. in accordance with the international Copyright act 1956 and the Uae Federal law no. (7) of 2002, Concerning Copyrights and neighboring rights, any person acting in contravention of this will be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

isBn: 978 1 86063 162 7 British library Cataloguing-in-Publication data a catalogue record for this book is available from the British library Printed and bound in the Uae by rashid Printers & stationers llC, ajman, Uae

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Contents
Introduction Oman’s seas and coasts Choosing and using your snorkelling gear Diving clubs and operators Some useful rules to know Site descriptions musandam ras as sawadi daymaniyat islands marjan Public Beach shark Point Fahl island darsayt kalbuh Cemetery Bay Pillar rock Cat island Qantab First Bay east of Qantab Bandar Jissah 20 30 31 38 40 43 49 53 55 58 60 62 65 66 Appendix 1. Where to buy equipment Appendix 2. Service and maintenance of your diving equipment 96 Glossary Acknowledgements 97 104 95 6 11 13 16 19 Bandar khayran Bommie Bay sand dunes Bay al munassir Wreck khaysat ash shaikh ras abu da’ud Qurayyat Wreck makalla Wabar or Tiwi Beach ras al Hadd Wreck raha or Hoon’s Bay eagle’s retreat marbat reef raysut rock and coast, west to mughsayl Fizayih rocks Fizayih Bluff 92 92 94 71 79 81 82 83 84 86 86 87 72 90 90

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introduction
diving emergencies
Naval Recompression Chamber 24-hour emergency telephone number: +968 99350587 • This number will connect you with the Duty Diving Officer, Said bin Sultan Naval Base, Wudam. Please ensure you have adequate and up-to-date diving medical insurance, as there will be a cost to use the recompression chamber. • The Armed Forces Hospital at Al Khoud will accept all diving emergencies and will carry out initial assessment and stabilization prior to transfer to Wudam.
Scuba divers float effortlessly over a reef in Oman’s waters.

Currents connect the farthest reaches of the oceans into one vast, continuous system. The world’s oceans provide most of our oxygen, rainfall, weather and temperature control. our survival depends on it, yet we know so little about it and so few of us ever have any close contact with it. We, the snorkelling and diving community, are a privileged few who cross through the inscrutable surface of the sea to marvel at its mysteries. We are often so overwhelmed by what we see that we can become unaware of the impact we have in this most fragile of environments and the sensitive creatures that live within. each one of us should do what we can to maintain the continued health of the ocean and

• The emergency wards of both The Royal Hospital and Al Khoula Hospital can deal with stings, cuts, bites, fractures and other injuries. Private hospitals in Muscat, such as the Shatti Hospital and Muscat Private Hospital are also well equipped to deal with such emergencies. Make sure you know the most direct route to these place. the great wealth of its resources. as a start, be alert, caring and responsible when exploring the hidden wonders of the sea and, when you emerge, leave only your stress behind; take away only your excitement, memories and photographs. Water covers two-thirds of the world, concealing vast plains, basins, gaping canyons, huge mountain ranges,

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introduction
volcanoes and a seemingly endless quantity of plant and animal life, with none more varied than those inhabiting a coral community. Photographs and descriptions can’t begin to do justice to the rich variety, colour and abundance of life below sea level. To sense it fully, you must experience it for yourself. Contrary to their popular image, snorkelling and diving are not ‘macho’ sports reserved for the fittest, bravest and strongest among us: standing at a cocktail party requires more exertion than effortlessly floating face down over a coral garden. as long as you can float, you can snorkel. even the weakest of swimmers can find a calm haven to fishwatch in shallow water. as you enter the sea for the first time, you embark on an underwater adventure; the profusion of life, movement and colour will envelop and entice you. activities such as snorkelling and diving are easy to pursue in the sultanate. The water is warm all year round and much of the coast, with its many great underwater sites, is readily accessible. The coast is largely free of pollution and relatively undisturbed by people; in fact, many places along oman’s coastline have yet to be explored underwater. knowing yours are the first human eyes to view a site conveys a sense of excitement; the observant are rewarded with new species of fish, shells and coral. This book highlights some of the better-known snorkelling and diving sites round the sultanate, their locations and points of access, and what to look

Repeat from Old Book p.35
A single clownfish nestles in the swollen tentacles of its host anemone.
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introduction
for when you get there. other sites are deliberately omitted because they are pristine and fragile; to encourage enthusiasts to visit them might lead to damage or even their demise. Then again, to include too many sites would leave little room for personal exploration with its own unique excitement and rewards. generally speaking, one can snorkel or dive anywhere along a rocky coast and not be disappointed, so do not feel constrained by the list of sites in the book. it may strike some as strange that there is no special section on the dangers of the deep or related information on first aid. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, these have already been covered in great detail in three books available in oman: The Coral Seas of Muscat, Seashells of Southern Arabia and Red Sea Safety. secondly and, more importantly, it is our strong belief that the perils caused by marine animals are exaggerated beyond all proportion: the image of the sea as a place fraught with danger is one deliberately promoted by some divers. don’t be impressed by the tridents, prodders and clubs these people take down to the depths with them. These look as ridiculous as a machete in the hands of someone strolling through a wooded area. do not be alarmed by sharks here. although they are quite abundant, there has never been a recorded case of an attack against a swimmer, snorkeller or diver in oman. To prove the point, try photographing them up close – they are frustratingly shy – solidifying our belief that the best defence against oman’s sharks is a camera. a note of warning: if you see anyone spear fishing, stop them if you can. not only is this activity illegal, but it could cause a shark problem.

Snorkelling in the Musandam region, especially close to the Strait of Hormuz is diverse and exciting, with a varied and colourful array of marine life.

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introduction
Barracudas should not be feared here. However, you should never wear bright, flashy trinkets when either snorkelling or diving in the sea as barracudas may instinctively rush a swimmer in a response to glinting or glittering objects. The truly dangerous reef creatures are those armed for their own protection: poisonous fish, stingrays, the spines of sea urchins and the sharp ridges of corals and oysters. The rest, in a long list of armaments, are weapons of defence, not offence, but it is the careless diver who exposes him or herself to these dangers. The rule here: never stand on coral. not only will you smash their delicate infratructure and destroy the shelter of innumerable creatures, but you will expose yourself to marine-life booby-traps at the same time – a foot full of sea-urchin spines or stitches in your ankle will certainly stop you in your tracks. in addition, avoid the urge to touch. The poison from some cone shells can prove fatal if the shell harpoons a handler, moray eels frequently lurk in holes beside lobsters and will deter further intrusion with a swift bite to a probing hand, and some of the most seemingly innocuous fish have concealed spines and scalpel-sharp barbs or scales, which they are quick to use when trapped or harassed. divers who traverse the seabed with their hands should remove a few weights and swim instead, to avoid damaging bottom dwellers and themselves at the same time. Float quietly and attentively over the reefs and the resident sea creatures will offer little trouble, but beware of the blisteringly hot, summer sun: keep well covered. in addition, always check and respect the sea’s currents. snorkellers, divers, beachcombers and rock-pool potterers are urged to buy the following reference books: The Coral

The Musandam Peninsula provides great snorkelling and diving opportunities for tourists in the midst of spectacular landscape.
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introduction
Hints for boat handlers
Avoid anchoring on coral: your anchor can destroy 50 years of coral growth in five minutes. • Where possible anchor in sand off the edge of the reef, or look for large white patches of sand in the reef and anchor there. • If sand patches are small or difficult to find, swim the anchor down and set it in sand by hand. • Always check the anchor is properly set in sand and that the chain or rope is unlikely to snag coral. • Find the anchor prior to ascent and ensure that both it and the chain and rope won’t snag coral or rocks before attempting to raise it. Be considerate: • Keep a sharp lookout for fishermen’s floats – and submerged ropes in particular – and give them a wide berth if at all possible. • Move slowly near popular underwater sites, such as at Bandar Khayran, Bandar Jissah and Fahl Island; underwater noise pollution detracts from your diving and snorkelling pleasure. • Stay clear of divers’ bubbles and remain aware around snorkellers; some of the more accomplished participants can stay submerged for two minutes or more. Seas of Muscat, Corals Of Oman, The Living Seas, Marine Life of the Southern Gulf, Seashells of Oman or Seashells of Eastern Arabia, Red Sea Invertebrates, Coastal Fishes of Oman, Red Sea Reef Fishes, Sharks of Arabia and Red Sea Safety, which are available throughout the sultanate. some publications are also available from the library of the marine science and Fisheries Centre. various reference cards, such as Fishes of the Souk and South Arabian Reef Fishes are also excellent for field use. laminate them with a half-centimetre edge for underwater use. only the common names of the fish, coral and other sea creatures found in this book are used and, in most cases, the names correspond to those used in the field guides mentioned on the previous page. a glossary at the end of the book lists the common names used here and in the field guides, along with their corresponding scientific names. our boats can take us to naturally protected areas of wilderness, but we must be careful not to disturb or damage the ocean’s pristine character in our attempt to explore its depths. always bear in mind that access to these sites is not our right, but a privilege that we will only be permitted to enjoy as long as we cause minimal disturbance. Be especially careful to lower your anchor onto sand, then follow the rope down and secure the anchor properly in the sand: boat anchors have been responsible for the destruction of large areas of coral in some parts of the world much frequented by divers and this has ultimately resulted in their closure to further forays. The same is happening at sites around muscat, such as at Fahl island so, if you plan to dive this area, be considerate and ensure you preserve its natural state.

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oman’s seas and coasts
The coast of oman is wild and varied. There is a wealth of scenery, wildlife, opportunity and pleasure awaiting the intrepid underwater explorer. There is also the constant promise of the discovery of new places, things and phenomena. The relative remoteness of sections of the rocky coastline and islands has helped to preserve their natural beauty and wildlife. Consequently, these areas offer dramatic scenery, greater contact with nature and more opportunities for exploratory diving. The long, rather-dull-for-divers sweep of Batinah Beach yields to the rugged beauty of the rocky coast at ras al Hamra. From here to beyond muscat the coast is, with good reason, densely developed. despite this, you can still find havens of tranquility in several small coves featured on this coast. The embayed and stable nature of the rocky coasts from muscat to the border with Yemen, and of musandam, encourage the growth of corals and/or other colourful marine life, making these particularly valuable areas for snorkelling and scuba diving. The muscat area suffers the tantrums of fickle north winter winds that make the sea off limits in all but the most sheltered bays. during may and June the sea settles and warms, producing the clearest of waters, and these are the best months to spend time in the sea. in summer, the seas of the muscat area are generally calm and still. The fierce summer sun warms the upper six to 10 metres so that there is a noticeable break or thermocline between this layer and the underlying cold water. Plankton thrives in the warm water, which decreases the chances of good visibility in July, august and september. nonetheless, the sea offers an excellent refuge from summer’s unrelenting heat and humidity. Beware of sunburn during this season – the temptation to snorkel and dive without a wetsuit may cause overexposure to the severe summer sun. Complex winds and currents occasionally cause the upwelling of cold water from the depths. This is particularly noticeable in summer when seawater temperatures can drop by as much as 10°C in a day or two. Both summer and winter upwelling are very localized in the muscat area, and can cause red tides, which colour the sea a bright orange-red. The dhofar upwelling is quite different. This is a fairly stable, constant upwelling that continues for four to five months during the khareef, or monsoon summer months, a period of tremendously rough, cold, green seas, when seaweed grows and proliferates on all rocky coasts of the southern region. The huge swells and surf ensure that most of this coast is closed for diving. However,

The corals and macroalgae of the Dhofar region are exposed to one of the most unique coral-growing environments.
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oman’s seas and coasts
certain bays and coves are reasonably well sheltered, offering fascinating snorkelling and diving among the seaweed forests. This seaweed grows quickly when upwelling floods the seas with nutrient-rich cool water, and some can reach 1.5 to two metres in length in just a few months. september is the best time to experience the seaweed forests, as the sea’s swell and upwelling have subsided, the sea is warming, but the seaweed has not yet died off. When the seaweed dies, it does so quickly, accumulating in masses that rot in the shallows, making access to some underwater sites a rather unpleasant experience. rocky reefs fringe most of the dhofar Coast, providing a substrate for coral as well as for seaweed communities. Corals are remarkably abundant in some of the sheltered mainland coves and around the al Hallaniyat islands, where they form attractive and varied communities. Certain dhofar corals, fish, seaweed, starfish and sea urchins are found nowhere else in oman and you will be amazed by the quantity of large and fearless fish. some of dhofar’s weedcovered reefs are also major feeding grounds for green turtles, and large green and loggerhead turtles are a common sight underwater. Unfortunately, large patches of dead coral are a common sight and a source of speculation in the muscat and musandam areas. The infamous coral predator, the crown-of-thorns starfish, has killed off some of these areas of coral, along with tangled fishing nets and silt-laden floodwaters, which have almost certainly played a significant part in the death of these coral reefs. it is also likely that the summer upwelling contributes to localized coral mortality by sudden, plummeting temperatures, which stress the corals beyond their tolerance levels. Being comfortable in the water is the key to enjoying snorkelling and diving. Choose your equipment carefully and start off snorkelling at your own pace. remember, the best snorkellers make the safest divers, so don’t allow yourself to be rushed into diving. diving ties you to heavy and expensive equipment which requires a means to transport it and you’ll require a suitable source of compressed air. safety requirements these days will burden you with enough equipment, so beware of being talked into strapping on every conceivable gadget that opens and shuts. Tried and true equipment is often a better option. a good snorkeller is truly free of unnecessary equipment. You need no more than a mask, a snorkel, a pair of fins and the time to use them. many a comfortable snorkeller is content never to dive, even when presented with the option, thanks to the accessibility of the snorkelling experience. Top tips on what to look for when buying snorkelling equipment follow; places to buy or service equipment are listed in the appendix.

Repeat from Old Book p.18

This cabbage coral seems to sweep out to sea forming surrealistic patterns.

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snorkelling and diving in oman

Choosing and using snorkelling gear
Masks
1. Choose a mask that fits. To test this, put the mask over your face without donning the strap. inhale lightly, let go and if the mask remains in place, it seals well. a good seal is most important! 2. Check the mask has the following: a. a double seal where it presses against the face for a better fit and comfort during your snorkel/dive b. tempered or safety glass c. an easily adjustable strap that locks in place d. a suitable nosepiece, which enables you to equalize the air pressure in your ears and sinuses by squeezing your nostrils shut and making your ears ‘pop’ e. the mask should give a reasonably wide field of vision and shouldn’t have much depth, resulting in a low volume of air, which helps snorkellers to equalize pressure, prevent mask squeeze and facilitate the clearing of water from the mask when submersed 3. scour the inside of a new mask’s face plate with an abrasive detergent or toothpaste. This technique will help keep the glass from fogging up. 4. Before entering the water, spit on the inside of the glass and rub it briskly with your fingers; then rinse the mask in seawater. once again, this helps to prevent fogging. 5. if your mask is a good fit, it is unnecessary to over-tighten the strap. an uncomfortably tight mask can produce headaches and any mask leakage is more likely caused by strands of hair caught under the mask, so always be sure that your hair, hood or bathing cap are not under the edge of your mask or you will be forever surfacing to empty it.

Snorkels
The two main considerations when buying a snorkel are comfort and breathing resistance. Choose a snorkel with a comfortable mouthpiece and a bore of approximately two centimetres. Thinner snorkels are difficult to breathe through and wider types can be difficult to clear of water. avoid snorkels with sharply angled bends or concertina-type tubes: these create breathing resistance and trap water. a valve in the bend of a snorkel can help with water clearance but will always be a point of weakness that can trap sand and cause leakages, thus reducing its life expectancy. The flange on the snorkel’s mouthpiece is secured between teeth and lips, and the projections sit behind the teeth. When selecting your snorkel, try breathing through it slowly and evenly before you enter the sea for the first time.

Some underwater explorers choose to snorkel to avoid the encumberance of dive gear.
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Choosing and using snorkelling gear
always remember to hold the snorkel firmly with your lips, which will create a pouting expression that improves the mask’s seal on your face. never grimace, as this deepens the furrows above your mouth and allows water to leak in. one short sharp exhalation through the snorkel is usually enough to blow out any water, although beginners may find it easier to lift their heads out of the water, remove the snorkel and tip it upside down. This is laborious and clumsy, so it is worth mastering the proper technique for removing water. While floating on the surface you should always look slightly ahead. This will keep your snorkel pointing upwards. if you look directly downwards, the snorkel will be angled forwards and its opening will come closer to the water’s surface, allowing water to flood in. When you take the plunge and freedive underwater, the snorkel will fill up, but your mouth will not be flooded. To clear this water, look up as you ascend and blow out when your mask breaks the surface. it is easier to clear the snorkel while it points down than to blow the water upwards. if you do not have enough air left to blow the water out, you will have to remove the mouthpiece upon surfacing.

Fins
You have a choice between full-foot and open-heel fins. Full-foot fins are lighter and less hard on the ankles for people who like to swim long distances. also, because boots are not a prerequisite, they allow you to cut back on the amount of gear you need to buy, pack, carry and clean. open-heel fins have an adjustable strap for a perfect fit.

A mask, snorkel and fins – all you need to enjoy Oman’s mysterious underwater world.

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Choosing and using snorkelling gear
However, they are bulky and must be worn with a pair of underwater boots. Whatever style you prefer, make sure the blades are rigid; this allows for more propulsion with each kick. keep your fins underwater (sometimes a problem with floating types). Fins flapping at the surface offer virtually no propulsion and terrify the fish. kick your legs up and down, bending more at the knee than at the waist. do not cycle, ie drawing the knees up to the waist. Your snorkelling technique will quickly improve with a little practice – just work on relaxing, moving slowly and enjoying yourself. You may need to smooth your duck dive (your dive from the surface downwards) as quick, jerky movements waste energy and chase away fish and turtles. To dive down, bend at the waist, pull your legs up to your chest, raise them out of the water, then simply relax and let gravity do the work. once your fins are underwater, you can slowly begin to fin your way further down. move sparingly and you will find your breath lasts longer. To avoid painful pressure on the eardrums, you need to equalize and should begin to ‘pop’ your ears at the surface, and continue all the way down. moving your jaw from side to side or opening your mouth wide and yawning can work as well; otherwise simply hold your nose between thumb and forefinger and blow slowly but forcefully through the nose. once you are proficient at snorkelling, you may be lured by scuba diving. it is always best to learn to dive from a certified instructor, as you may not be permitted to dive by any dive operators without evidence of your qualifications.

With comfortable gear and good company, scuba diving can be a fascinating experience.
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diving clubs and operators
Commercial Dive Operators
Muscat BluZone Watersports
accredited both as a Padi gold Palm resort and as a BsaC resort, BluZone Watersports has all the facilities, equipment and resources to offer instruction and certification through various Padi levels, diving/ snorkelling excursions and rental or purchase of a wide range of equipment. its location, at marina Bandar ar rawdah, ensures the convenience of wet-berthed dive boats and quick access to muscat’s dive sites. Qualified Padi divemasters or instructors lead every dive. a complete itinerary for visiting divers can be arranged, including accommodation at any of the nearby hotels. Tel: +968 24737293 email: Bluzone@omantel.net.om Website: www.bluzonediving.com

Moon Light Dive Centre (Hyatt Regency Hotel)
moon light dive Centre, situated on the beach in The Boat House, currently runs diving operations at the Hyatt regency Hotel. dive excursions cater for hotel guests and the general public and many other water-sports activities are also on offer. Both diving and snorkelling equipment is available for hire. a complete range of Padi courses are offered in both english and arabic. Tel: +968 99317700 email: aljoori@omantel.net.om Website: www.moonlightdive.com

Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre
For dive trips in the muscat area, muscat diving and adventure Centre (mdaC) will refer you to the BluZone Watersports centre (see left). However, trips to more remote dive sites are also catered for, using 4Wd vehicles to access shore-diving locations, usually involving overnight camps. other activities can be arranged for the nondiving partner or family. a complete range of rental equipment is available for diving and snorkelling. Tel: +968 24485663 email: info@omandiving.com Website: www.omandiving.com

DivEco
diveco runs dive operations at the al sawadi Beach resort, which is run from the appropriately named daymaniyat dive Centre and specialises in dive trips to the nearby daymaniyat islands. instruction and Padi certification are offered at both locations and a full range of rental equipment is also available. excursions leave from the beach immediately outside the resort. like most dive operators in muscat, diveco also offers snorkelling and dolphin-watching trips. Tel: +968 26795545 email: diveco@hotmail.com Website: www.alsawadibeach.com

Oman Dive Centre
The oman dive Centre (odC) was formerly operated under the auspices of the oman diving Federation (now disbanded) and is currently under the management of the al Bustan Palace Hotel. The odC is situated in Bandar Jissah, one of oman’s most beautiful and rich natural heritage sites. The centre

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diving clubs and operators
Charlotte Anne Sailing and Diving Charters
Charters aboard the Charlotte Anne, a twin-mast schooner accommodating up to 11 guests, can be arranged directly with Charlotte anne sailing and diving Charters based in Fujairah. The vessel operates mainly in the musandam region, offering day trips and longer excursions. live-aboard cruises to other parts of oman can be arranged on request as can diving equipment upon 72 hours notice, although you are requested to bring your own snorkelling gear. Tel: +971 9 2223508 (Uae) email: seatrips@emirates.net.ae (Uae) Website: www.charlotteannecharters.com

Most dive stores and opertators in Oman can outfit you from head to toe.

offers a complete range of Padi diving courses, in both english and arabic, and is well equipped. dive excursions, led by qualified Padi divemasters or instructors, are offered throughout the capital and beach cabanas are available for overnight stays at the centre. Tel: +968 24824240 email: info@omandivecentre.com Website: www.diveoman.com.om

Khasab Travel and Tours
Trips to dive sites in the musandam region are offered by khasab Travel and Tours onboard a traditional dhow departing from khasab Port. accommodation in khasab can be arranged and overnight camping excursions are also offered, including a guide to help identify dive sites. dive cylinders, weights and snorkelling gear can be rented on request. Tel: +968 26730464 (oman); +971 42669950 (Uae) email: khastour@omantel.net.om Website: www.khasabtours.com

the MusandaM Peninsula Al Marsa Travel and Tourism
established in 2000, al marsa Travel and Tourism offers dive excursions on board dhows or speedboats from dibba in southern musandam. day cruises or weeklong live-aboard trips mostly target dive sites around the musandam Peninsula, although trips can span as far afield as the daymaniyat islands. Padiqualified staff lead the trips. Tel: +968 26836550 (oman); +971 65441232 (Uae) email: info@musandamdiving.com Website: www.musandamdiving.com

salalah Sumahram Falcon Watersports & Diving Centre
The most established dive centre in salalah, sumahram has two offices; one operates from the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Holiday inn) and the
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diving clubs and operators
other from the Hilton Hotel. experienced dive leaders with excellent local knowledge of dive sites and sea conditions offer friendly and professional services. Full dive gear can be hired upon request and both shore and boat dives are available. Tel: Hilton +968 23211234/99099002 Crowne Plaza +968 23235427 email: sumahram@hotmail.com with membership restricted to Pdo (Petroleum development oman) personnel, and at Thumrayt (dhofar), where membership is limited to airworks’ employees. The level of activity largely depends on the members involved, so it is worth asking around to find out each club’s status and activities. BsaC dive Clubs: marina Bandar ar rawdah: +968 24737296 CaYC: +968 24737712

Dive Watersports Centre
The only other commercial dive operator in dhofar, the dive Watersports Centre in salalah offers shore dives along the rocky coast in the marbat region. Transport is provided by road from salalah to the dive site, ideal for exploring the underwtarer landscape. dive/snorkelling gear is available for hire and a local dive guide can be arranged upon request. Tel: +968 95205750 Website: www.salalahtour.com

Areas with restricted access
access to the daymaniyat islands is by permit only as the islands and surrounding waters make up a nature reserve. Permits for diving in the reserve are provided upon request to the ministry of environment and Climate affairs (meCa), directorate general of nature Conservation. The royal oman Police (roP) Coastguard operations also needs to be notified of your intended visit. landing on the islands from may 1– october 31 is not permitted. a permit is also required from the meCa before camping at ras al Hadd. do not expect to camp on the beach

Dive Clubs
There are currently two BsaC dive clubs in the muscat area and each offer membership to the general public: the Capital area Yacht Centre (CaYC) dive Club, and muscat divers, based at marina Bandar ar rawdah. Training is offered and newcomers are loaned equipment if required. informal dive trips, sometimes to remote areas, are often arranged at weekends. BsaC clubs in oman ask a nominal membership fee and are self-sufficient, with equipment servicing and maintenance performed within the club. other BsaC clubs in oman have more restricted membership, such as at the ras al Hamra recreation Centre,

The right equipment will lead to greater enjoyment during your dive experience.

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some useful rules to know
and do not drive on the turtle beaches to launch your boat. Permission is required from the roP Coastguard before diving at Fahl island near muscat and around raysut rock near salalah. diving is prohibited, by order of the roP, at the wrecks off al Qurm Beach and as seeb airport Beach, and anywhere between sidab and ras al Hamra. snorkelling is apparently tolerated at kalbuh and Cemetery Bay. However, regulations on diving and snorkelling in oman, currently governed by the roP Coastguard and the meCa, are subject to change. it is advisable to seek the latest information from one of the dive clubs/tour operators. prohibited. abide by the law. • The use of spear guns is strictly forbidden and a permit is required for fishing with a hook and line. The capture of lobsters (crayfish) and abalone is also prohibited.

Dive-operator rules
most dive operators in oman have their own set of rules, which include government regulations as well as strict codes of conduct. in general, divers are urged not to touch or interfere with marine life (gloves are discouraged for this reason) and those with cameras are reminded to control their buoyancy when over coral reefs. in addition, muslim customs dictate certain dress codes when in public places so you’ll feel more comfortable dressed in a wetsuit than in a two-piece swimming costume, in the case of female snorkellers and divers. as oman is still a relatively new diving destination, divers should take care to ensure the highest standards are maintained so that they do not bring the sport into disrepute and continue to be well received by local residents. Flouting the rules is frowned upon.

Prohibited activities
The ministry of agriculture and Fisheries has issued a number of laws controlling the capture, collection and export of marine life, and snorkellers and divers should abide by them: • The collection and/or export of corals, sea shells and other marine life, whether for personal or commercial reasons, is totally

Make sure your dive cylinder has been date-stamped when you have it serviced.
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